Mick Corley is what you would call a children’s entertainer. He’s hired during the summer months to travel from library to library promoting reading for kids.
"The things you want to do is point them towards and get them excited about reading and then they go and check out books. Especially if you emphasize certain books and that type of thing."
Part of Corley’s act is turning a playing card into a library card and telling the kids it’s the most important card you’ll ever have. He doesn’t just treat this like a day job. He’s passionate about what he does and about getting kids to read.
"Oh I think it’s absolutely the most important thing in the world. Because if they don’t learn to read, they’re gonna have a hard time getting along in life."
About 40 kids came to see his show in Houston’s downtown library. Once the show was over the hope is that they’ll take out books on the topics he talked about to learn more.
One of those kids was Anastasia and at age 9, she’s already treating tough subjects as if they’re a piece of cake.
"I’m gonna be reading books that have to do with science, because I think science is fun and all the subjects in school are bored besides science."
Anastasia’s grandmother is Linda Netto. As a retired educator she knows the importance of summer reading and bringing her grandchildren to their local library.
"Their mother and I both firmly believe that they have to read it’s just like breathing and I’ve brought them to the summer reading program since they were little bitty. They look forward to it."
Blanca Quezada is with Houston Public Library. She says their Summer Reading Program is hugely popular. If kids up to 18 read 10 books or more they get to take a book home for free. Quezada says the benefits of a program like this have been proven over the years.
"There’s been a lot of studies that have been done that say that when kids read during the summer months, they don’t lose the level of reading that they’ve accomplished throughout the school year."
Kathyrn Bauchelle, program director of Literacy Advance of Houston, would second that. She run’s a literacy program for adults in Houston. What she’s seeing is how a lack of literacy in childhood can sometimes lead to a deficiency in later life.
"People who already speak English, but they’ve reached adulthood and they still are not able to read and write at the level they would like. And they’re finding themselves missing out on opportunities because of that."
This will hopefully not be the case for Linda Netto’s grandkids. As it is she has to stop them from bringing too many books home.
"I have to put a limit. Like ten books at a time, which they’ll go through in a few days."
Houston’s Public Library Summer Reading Program runs until August 1st.
From the KUHF newslab I’m Edel Howlin.